Asian MMA is seemingly making a huge comeback with One Championship consistently putting on some spectacular shows. The level of Mixed martial arts is constantly evolving. Fighters are reaching new heights everytime they make that walk into the arena.
We live in an MMA world today where a balanced skillset is becoming the norm rather than the exception. This wasn’t always the case though, especially in the Pride FC days. Pride FC was the gem of Asian MMA long before One Championship came around. The first ever Pride FC event was held in 1997 in the Tokyo dome and quickly became the premier MMA event in Asia. In the early days of MMA, fighters were known more for their specialized skills than for their well balanced style. Of course, there were feared strikers like Mirco ‘Cro Cop’ Filipović and BJJ specialists like Rickson Gracie. However there was also some fighters that mixed it up beautifully even in the good ol’ days.
This article will bring to light some of the legendary Pride FC fighters. The ones that were an absolute terror both on the feet and the ground. Making their offensive and defensive capabilities difficult to handle, they paved the way for fighters in One Championship today.
1 Wanderlei The Axe Murderer Silva
Known as the ‘Axe Murder’, in his prime, Wanderlei Silva was a nightmare for any opponent to come up against in the Pride FC ring. His frenzy-like Muay Thai style mixed in with well-trained takedowns and solid BJJ made him an exciting fighter. No matter the opponent, Wanderlei was never one to back down from a fight. He cemented his name as a legend within the world of MMA with some movie-like performances. Though he never fought in One Championship, he did put on some exciting fights in the UFC.
Wanderlei ‘The Axe Murderer’ Silva vs Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson – Pride FC classic
Both men met for the second time at the Pride Final Conflict event in 2003. This was the battle to decide who would be the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix Champion. It was an exciting fight, with both men coming in high on confidence with a 7 fight win streak each. It was The Axe Murderer that eventually sent Rampage Jackson to the underworld with a knee from hell. The fight is MMA gold, if you haven’t watched it, grab some popcorn and enjoy! Check out the clip below for the finishing sequence.
Wanderlei ‘The Axe Murderer’ Silva vs Bob Schrijber
It was Wanderlei’s ability to take the fight to the ground when he needed, that allowed him to be so effective against almost any opponent in his prime. His takedowns were well-timed, ground and pound vicious and his control was dominant. To complete his ground game he also had some slick submissions. When Silva met Schrijber (a Muay Thai specialist) he soon took the fight to the ground. Wanderlei worked his submission skills and sunk in a rear naked choke to walk away victorious and relatively unscathed.
2 Anderson The Spider Silva
Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva took the world by storm in his prime and is still an active fighter in the UFC roster. His matrix-like reactions and seemingly effortless Muay Thai ability to strike his opponents down at will wow’d fight fans. Coupled with a multitude of submission victories make him one of the all time greatest MMA fighters. With stints in Pride FC, UFC and other lesser known organizations, he really has been around the block. Being that Anderson Silva and One Championship are both heavily influenced by Bruce Lee, they share a similar ethos of respect and honor. This doesn’t stop The Spider from putting on legendary performances though. There is one thing you can be sure of when you’re watching an Anderson Silva fight. You will be entertained!
Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva vs Carlos Newton
If Silva was a one-dimensional fighter, he’d have been in a whole world of trouble against Carlos Newton. Known for his dominant wrestling, Newton had every intention of taking Silva to the ground and dominating him there. However, The Spider had other plans.
While he wasn’t able to attack much off his back, he was able to stunt the advance of Newton. Silva fended off submission attempts from Newton while remaining calm in full guard the majority of the time. When the referee finally stood them up, it was clear something big was about to happen. Newton wasn’t able to do much on the ground and now he was on his feet with Silva. Not a good place to be. Moments after the commentator foresaw a knee from Silva, he landed a flying knee on Newton’s head. Newton dropped to the floor and Silva followed up with a vicious punch before the fight got called.
3 Ricardo The Brazilian Tiger Arona
Any opponent that found themselves in the ring with Ricardo ‘The Brazilian Tiger’ Arona knew they’d be in for a long night. Arona started his MMA journey after taking up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the age of 13. His almost unmatched athleticism, able to unleash freakishly powerful takedowns at will and savage ground and pound were a handful. But Arona was no slouch on the feet either, his devastatingly strong leg kicks chopped down some of the greats and he even had some notable wins via KO against Sakuraba, Gustavo Machada and Alistair Overeem.
Ricardo ‘The Brazilian Tiger’ Arona vs Sergey Ignatov
It was coming off the slam of a century from Quentin ‘Rampage’ Jackson in his previous bout that Arona found himself up against Sergey Ignatov. It would have been completely understandable for him to be a shell of his former self, yet he showed no signs of it. When Ignatov came blitzing in soon after the first round began, Arona saw his opportunity and brought him down with force. He proceeded to dominate him on the ground, both in terms of position and strikes until he eventually was able to secure a rear naked choke.
4 Quinton Rampage Jackson
It just wouldn’t be right mentioning the slam and not giving Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson his fair dues. An absolute terror in his prime at Pride FC, his howl, chain and personality were unique and some of his fights were instant classics. He took out some of the legends of MMA like Kevin Randleman, Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva (in UFC) and ofcourse Ricardo Arona.
Ricardo ‘The Brazilian Tiger’ Arona vs Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson – Pride FC classic
It was at Pride Critical Countdown in 2004 that Arona and Rampage met in the ring. From the get-go it was clear that although Arona was delivering some thunderous leg kicks, his intention was to take Rampage down to the ground. Eventually he was able to do so, although he was receiving a whole lot of ground and pound for his effort. Noticing an opportunity to throw up a triangle, he took his chance, but unfortunately it didn’t end well for him. As Rampage felt the triangle sinking in he lifted Arona off the ground high in the air and brought him crashing down, knocking him out on impact before delivering a final blow with his fist.
Every fight starts standing up and the chances of them eventually hitting the ground is pretty likely. Being well-versed in both a striking and ground discipline ensures that you are able to protect yourself as best as possible and capitalise on opportunities that arise. There are very few successful MMA fighters today in One Championship, UFC or any other promotions that are able to put together a meaningful streak without a decent proficiency in both realms. The same can be said for the average joe. A well-rounded self defence system will allow you to walk with assured confidence that no matter where the fight goes, you’ll be prepared and have the necessary tools at your disposal.
Pride isn’t the only organisation with some really epic fights! Check out our TOP K1 bouts compilation here.